Second Life and VR INteractions

A friend asked me about second life recently. I thought I’d comment here is a bit more detail than my facebook response…

I have limited exposure to second life. I do have an identity there as NineCrows. Haven’t used it in some time but I checked after you mentioned it and reset my password to something I know.

It would be cool to try that environment with room scale VR and I’ll look to see if they have software for that sometime soon. I did check and it looks as if they took a run at a VR product but gave up and sold off what was left.

My take on web- next with them is that they have the AOL or CompuServe walled garden model and that is limiting.

The web took off when HTTP and HTML were released openly and without royalties. Add in the free mosaic browser and free web servers (i admit that apache is the earliest I can remember…there may have been earlier options) and the web exploded.

I would think that an immersive VR web could happen if some group put together the equivalent for VR worlds with an open and relatively uncluttered protocol, a free open source client and server (these don’t need to be fancy, just work reasonably well with an assortment of hardware) and a URL equivalent for doorways between independent servers.

That would make it possible for a merchant or site to host their own environment with various implementations of fancier servers and clients in the mix and doors acting like links in the VR environment. Would be cool, I suspect we need more good quality VR systems and better internet links (lower latency?) out there for something like that to retake off.

I’m thinking that the protocol design would be the hardest part. You need to be able to push the complex information needed to render a virtual environment out quickly, handle the interim situation as assets load in a way that doesn’t make people upset and end up with high enough quality at the end that users would enjoy the experience.

Interesting challenge but one that is huge enough in scope that I’m not currently in a position to even poke at it 🙂 I do have a friend who wants to try VR chat sometime soon though so I may be able to get a basic idea from that as to how things perform in terms of latency and overall experience.

On reflection, if I take the random dungeon generator toy project in Unity far enough this might be an interesting ‘stretch’ goal. Allow doors to pull layout and assets from a remote machine (on my local net for simplicity) and render them in VR. Cool idea, probably too challenging to get to any time before something else catches my attention for home projects though…

Moday, September 7, 2020

Got the work bench in the basement cleaned up (finally). Not perfect at this point as much of the clutter that was on the bench is not in boxes of bins…but usable.

Installed the latest blender on several decently capable machines. The learning curve to get to a level of proficiency I want/need remains dauntingly steep. Challenges to be surmounted 🙂

I’m also probably going to look deeper into either WPF or Angular UI building so that I can build some tools I really could use. Probably WPF as some of these tools really want access to low level windows APIs and control of where windows show on the screen.

I think I want to become more comfortable with simple graphical editing in WPF (could go with MFC but that is really old-school) and see if I can build the tools I want to laying out things for Unity projects.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Looking to get back to some personal software projects as the fall approaches.

Got the VR system back together in the basement again. Software updates have been done. Needing to decide whether to pick cluster back up or head off in a different direction.

It has been a crazy year (almost) since I went from KMC to Draeger.

Started during a busy time for the team and spent a couple of months designing and prototyping an architecture for modern password management. Kind of a fun exercise building out samples for windows in C++ and C# and for linux in C using OpenSSL.

Dug in a bit and found that the bcrypt password hashing algorithm is obsolete. SCrypt partially replaced it and PBKDF2 seems to be the modern, tunable option.

Around December the member of the team who was leading (and mostly building) the proposal for the overall security architecture for the networking aspect of our devices gave his notice. As I was available and know my way around cryptography and cyber-security I stepped in and have spent the time since then taking his rough sketch and getting it much closer to a final product.

This has been particularly interesting as the devices on the network span three different operating systems. Some of the devices are rather old with low powered processors on no frills on the CPU selection. This needs to pass muster at FDA in the recent climate there where cybersecurity is being taken seriously and it has to drop into the existing network architecture without too much dislocation.

Fun challenge made even more challenging by the arrival of covid-19. I’ve been working from home and communicating with the rest of the team by teleconference and email. Nice to avoid the commute for a while and it has been a very pleasant summer but everything is harder when you can’t easily take everyone into a conference room and hash things out on the white-board.

I’m hoping that things will calm down a bit now so that I can get some VR work going again. I’m still toying with buying a resharper license to make C# development a bit more pleasant. I’m looking at VR headsets and newer CPUs and the 3000 series graphics cards that NVidia is about to release but probably won’t make a move on that front any time soon. If a new and exciting VR headset came out I might go for that…so far I’m not sold on any of the latest crop over my old first generation vive.

I’m still doing some photography though with our vacation plans for this year totally cancelled I haven’t had anything more photogenic than the pond to shoot. We did get the kayaks back in the water this summer and I’ve been getting a decent amount of paddling in. I’ll probably get out on the water some more this weekend and likely bring the camera along.